The Reef Tank banner

1 - 20 of 40 Posts

·
Former Plankton.
Joined
·
272 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As some of you may know, I'm in the process of setting up my own LFS.
I got all the legal stuff done and now I'm looking for wholesalers.
Can any of you guys recommend any good wholesalers?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,214 Posts
I'd start with contacting the brand name companies.....tell them what you are doing.
Also visit a LFS [not one close by] and ask some pointed questions about suppliers.

Once you get a door or two open, it would seem the manufacturers would be coming to you.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,375 Posts
Retailers guard their livestock sources pretty tight. You probably won't learn much by asking the owner of a LFS. You may be able to quietly squeeze a little info out of an employee though.:nuts: The dry goods are easy. Just google the brand name of what you're looking for. For captive bred livestock, check Sustainable Aquatics, or ORA. Personally, I think Sustainable Aquatics prices and quality is far superior to ORA. At least for now. For imported corals you can check "Route 66" http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...lvnRDw&usg=AFQjCNGdNFCgl6baaI0nX2isri-QnR04cw. For imported fish, try "Quality Marine". http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...nKyuCw&usg=AFQjCNGXh3nBeEeWoSPFXZ6ruay1q0FGnA Those are just a few examples. There are a ton of wholesalers out there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,350 Posts
Do you have your retail store location yet?

Most of the wholesalers already mentioned (ORA, Sustainable, etc) will not sell to a home based business. You must have an open to the public storefront.
 

·
Former Plankton.
Joined
·
272 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Do you have your retail store location yet?

Most of the wholesalers already mentioned (ORA, Sustainable, etc) will not sell to a home based business. You must have an open to the public storefront.
I do have a retail store open to the public, it just happens to be in my house.
I do not sell online and I do not ship.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,081 Posts
How much volume do you expect you would be moving? For garage operation it may be better to pay retail price on some choice pieces and grow them. When buying in bulk you do get them cheap but you also get a lot of junk pieces that is very hard to sell if you don’t have a lot of foot traffic. Sales guys tend to save their best stuff for their best customers. So I suggest concentrating your buying power with one or two good suppliers when you find them.

Sea Dwelling Creatures have a really poor selection of corals but a pretty good selection of fish.

Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
200 Posts
Different wholesalers have different requirements to get an account with them. ORA is going to want pics of your store and retail sign, I think Quality still requires a phonebook listing, and ORA may not even talk to you if they are selling to a store near you. Most wholesalers have a minimum purchase amount and may drop your account if you dont order often enough. When I used to go to Quality and Sea Dwelling the min was around $300. Most wholesalers wont sell to you if your business is in your house. I would recommend staying away from Posieden, Seagrest, and All Seas because you may experience problems. Sustainable , Sea Dwelling and Quality are good as mentioned. Quality has higher prices but the fish are worth it, they take excellent care of their fish . I used to go to the LA wholesalers ever week when I lived out there. You can check out Royal Pet Supplies and Central Pet for dry goods, tanks, etc. There is also Sun Pet in Atlanta for fish, I havent ordered from them but there facility looks good. Also, dont forget to take your time acclimating if you order and check ph and salinity in the bags before acclimating. Let me know how it goes.
 

·
Aquatic Philosopher
Joined
·
15,434 Posts
Quality Marine and Sea Dwelling are generally the best for "importing" while ORA and Sustainable are good for aquaculture. For example, all of Liveaquaria's orders are basically shipped out directly from Quality Marine. But like folks said, they only deal with storefronts.

If you are going to do the whole in-home deal, you need to look into trans-shipping... which is expensive and tends to be more risky.
 

·
Aquatic Philosopher
Joined
·
15,434 Posts
in the end, the wholesaler protect the brick-and-mortar business... they do not want fly-by-night operations undercutting established markets...

a storefront does not need to be prime street-front retail locations. A few of the more lucrative store I know of have hidden, non-prime retail spots hidden in office parks and storage-warehouse locations. I think a retail location for you would be rather cheap in SD (my brother is in Morris MN so I have an idea of the cost per sqft of retail space). You could establish a retail location fairly easily.
 

·
Former Plankton.
Joined
·
272 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OUTSTANDING INPUT FROM ALL OF YOU. :beer:

I really appreciate all the posts here. Some really great advice. Thanks again.
BTW. Does anyone have any idea on what the average percentage of sales break down would be for a small fish shop? In other words, what percentage of sales is made up of livestock vs dry goods?
The reason I ask I'm trying to determine how much floor space I need to dedicate to dry goods. I'm hoping I can make enough on livestock that I don't need to "carry" dry goods in inventory but I know that is not going to be the case.
 

·
Aquatic Philosopher
Joined
·
15,434 Posts
I think there is a big debate about that... I have seen it come up for many stores. Generally, greater profit margins are with the livestock but so is the risk. I say it depends. The LFS that I "hung out" at was mostly livestock oriented but some stores do better with dry goods. I think it comes down to whether you can keep the experience staff/you around to do the "important" work for the live stock. With drygoods, you have to cover the basics (salt and more emergency-like stuff) and a lot of time the best "sellers" are not necessarily the best for the tank (often Purple-Up sells well but it is snake-oil)... so there are hobbyist/business questions for you to work out.

The other thing is whether or not to cater to noobs or experts... new people to the hobby's needs and demands are different than the experts, so you will have to figure out that strategy. A new person feels a $120 HOB skimmer is a big purchase but expert will see that as junk. My suggestion to to sell what moves quickly (at your location) and keep track of what what moves. The accounting/product flow is often one of the more important aspects that can be overlooked. Remember, the hobby is a winter-driven hobby so starting off in the spring/summer is tricky... on one hand, it allows you time to work out the kinks during the dead-season (summer) but causes issues with starting up with a large new set of inventory while being slower to move it initially. You will want to set up a maintenance side-business as well. Retail is often key, but maintenance pays the bills. Many LFS rather do just maintenance and forget the retail side but they must keep the storefront if they want those better wholesale accounts.
 

·
Aquatic Philosopher
Joined
·
15,434 Posts
it is not the first time...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,623 Posts
As some of you may know, I'm in the process of setting up my own LFS.
I got all the legal stuff done and now I'm looking for wholesalers.
Can any of you guys recommend any good wholesalers?
Route 66 marine
eye catching coral
Aquatic trading co.
A&M

I use and respect all of these wholesalers. Some have better prices than others, and each seems to specialise in different types of corals than the other.

For example Eye catching Coral has the best Acan Colonies IMO.
 

·
Aquatic Philosopher
Joined
·
15,434 Posts
Keep in mind I am a transportation planner (based in urban planning) not a MBA ;)

Also, I do not really know the Sioux Falls aquarium market first hand, but the healthier stores I see are those located between large residential area (suburb) and the central business district... you want people to swing by on the way home... kinda like operating a drug store. Locating near a tax office helps too (since Christmas and tax-return is normally the big sales time that I have seen). The other thing is to know what folks in Sioux City spend their money on. DC (in my opinion) should have a larger market for marine aquariums than it does (higher income and higher education... but we are less home-oriented) but folks in DC spend their money on real estate (which is really expensive) and social life. DC is an out to be seen and not a inside at home town... even in the winter. On the other hand Richmond VA (area population of about 1.25 million) had several good sized fish stores catering to a fairly active hobby (from what it looks like). Greenville/Spartenburg SC which is about a million (just under) but could barely keep 1-2 afloat. But people in Greenville had more restaurants per capita than any other city... so it was a dine out, be seen/social city. Atlanta seems to have several stores but when the economic downturn hit they went from the teens to about 2-3 stores.

You really have to gauge the spending habits of Sioux Fall... the hobby tends to be stronger the further north you go (and the cold you go). You do not have to have that amazing store-front (but it can help) but you need to be placed where you are easily accessed by the residential population core of the area... that was one struggle of the LFS I hung out at (it was on the fringe... and on the opposite side of town form the suburban core)
 

·
Former Plankton.
Joined
·
272 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I believe it.
If you know of any internet references that you think might help me I would really appreciate it.

I plan on catering to hobbiest's, if my customers want the cheap stuff then they should go to Wallmart. I'm not going to be able to compete with there prices anyways.
If my customers want the good stuff, the stuff that the chain stores don't carry, that's where I come in.
 
1 - 20 of 40 Posts
Top